As a frequent user of the rail network, I can attest to the poor rail service we experience in the North. For years, we have had to put up with frequently late and cancelled train services, and rolling stock that is long overdue for replacement. In more recent times we have had the additional miseries of ‘emergency timetables’ and skeleton train services.
To add insult to injury, rail fares have continued to rise year on year, whilst the service provided has gotten worse. It is no wonder that international train companies refer to the UK as ‘Treasure Island’.
Our section of the failing rail network has been overseen by Northern Rail, which has continued to rake-in profits whilst passengers suffer.
Months ago, I joined a number of other Northern MPs and Mayor Andy Burnham in calling for an Inquiry into Northern Rail’s handling of our rail network, in the hope that this would result in Northern Rail being stripped of this franchise. I am glad to see that this has now happened.
However, I have long said that the whole privatised rail system is rotten and not fit for purpose. This is a view held by the majority of the British public, from all sides of the political spectrum, who support the renationalisation of the rail network.
The rail network should be run by the people for the people, not for the financial enrichment of transport giants, the majority of which are foreign corporations and governments.
Despite this, the Government continues to ignore the will of the people on this issue, in its zealotic defence of the so-called ‘free market’, which in reality is a cartel of price-gouging transport companies.
Therefore, I have no faith that the Government will learn from this shambolic episode and support bringing the railway system back into public ownership. Instead, it will be business as usual, with the Government handing the contract for our section of the rail network to an equally loathsome member of the cartel. Despite this, I have written to the Secretary of State for Transport, Grant Shapps, and raised this issue with him.
I can assure you that I will continue to campaign for the democratisation of our railways and other essential utilities, in the hope that we will one day have a Government that works for the people and not the well-heeled individuals. This includes voting, whenever possible, to bring the railway system into public ownership.